BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s something that flew under the radar for years: The conditions of workplaces for artists in Baltimore.
After a massive fire ripped through an Oakland, California, warehouse, killing more than 30 people, Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh knew something had to be done locally. A year after after the deadliest fire in Oakland’s history, Baltimore is finding artists new spaces and new homes.
“We want the art community to feel more than welcome,” Pugh said.
Following the Oakland incident, Pugh formed a “Safe Art Space” task force. Pugh discussed the task’s force’s findings and announced recommendations for the city at a news conference Wednesday.
“It took an incident like that for us to take a hard look at our DIY spaces in our arts community,” says Franklin McNeil Jr., task force co-chair. t
The recommendations were highlighted by the possibility of turning vacant city schools into art spaces.
“We should not be leaving buildings empty in communities, because I think that’s what creates the fear among those that live in the city the most,” Push said.
The group’s recommendations also includes providing a technical assistance team, which would open the lines of communication to find out what spaces need and how to bring them up to code
“Technical assistance to artists and art spaces is probably the thing that came about most often and most strongly,” says Jon Laria, task force co-chair.
The push for a safer art community is an obvious sign that the city values artists, their work and what they bring to the table.
“They bring a certain economic value to the city and we want to make sure that we’re continuing to enhance and grow that community,” Pugh said.
The mayor and the task force were criticized for how long it took to make the recommendations public. Pugh says she still needs to conduct a thorough review.
The task force recommends identifying businesses, nonprofit organizations and lenders as potential sources of funding.